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How is pelvic pain treated?

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Treatment depends on the cause of pelvic pain, how intense the pain is, and how often the pain occurs. No one treatment approach has been shown to be better than another in all cases.1 Some treatment options include:

  • Medicines. Many types of medicine are used to treat pelvic pain. These include pain relievers that are swallowed or injected, muscle relaxants, and antidepressants.1,2,3
  • Hormonal treatment. Hormones can help pain related to endometriosis and menstruation.4 These include hormones that are swallowed, injected, or placed in the uterus, such as birth control pills, gonadotropin-releasing hormone injections, or progestin-releasing intrauterine devices. Hormonal treatment for pelvic pain is not the same as hormone therapy that is sometimes used to treat the symptoms of menopause.
  • Lifestyle changes. Some women's pain is helped by changes in diet, improved posture, and regular physical activity.1
  • Physical therapy. Some types of pain, such as muscle and connective tissue pain, respond well to physical therapy. This type of therapy might involve massage, stretching, strengthening, or learning to relax or control pelvic muscles.5
  • Surgery. Some women may need surgery to remove adhesions,6 fibroids, and/or endometriosis. In some cases, the surgery might also reduce or relieve pelvic pain. Some women may have surgery to cut or destroy nerves to interrupt pain signals,1 but such pain surgeries often are not successful. Depending on the cause of the pain, a woman's health care provider might recommend a hysterectomy (pronounced hiss-tur-EK-toh-mee), surgery to remove a woman's uterus, to help relieve or reduce pelvic pain.
  • Counseling. Counseling or "talk therapy" may help treat pain. In fact, talk therapy, when combined with medical treatment, appears to work better for improving some symptoms than does medical treatment alone.1

Finding a treatment that works can take time. Some women want to try alternative therapies to relieve their pain. Learning healthy ways to cope with pain is an important aspect of any treatment approach.

  1. Andrews, J., Yunker, A., Reynolds, W. S., Likis, F. E., Sathe, N. A., & Jerome, R. N. (2012). Noncyclic chronic pelvic pain therapies for women: Comparative effectiveness (Comparative Effectiveness Review No. 41). Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. [top]
  2. National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse. (2011). What I need to know about interstitial cystitis/painful bladder syndrome.Retrieved April 19, 2012, from [top]
  3. National Digestive Diseases Clearinghouse. (2012). Irritable bowel syndrome.Retrieved April 19, 2012, from [top]
  4. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, ACOG Committee on Practice Bulletins—Gynecology. (2004). ACOG practice bulletin no. 51. Chronic pelvic pain. Obstetrics & Gynecology, 103(3), 589–605. PMID 14990428 [top]
  5. UCSF Medical Center. (2012). Pelvic pain. Retrieved April 19, 2012, from External Web Site Policy [top]
  6. National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse. (2012). Abdominal adhesions. Retrieved April 19, 2012, from [top]

Last Reviewed: 04/12/2013
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